REGINA – If investment in education is increased beyond the status quo, school boards in Saskatchewan envision early years and mental health as two high priorities for additional support.
“We surveyed our member school boards across the province about their highest priorities and those two themes emerged consistently,” said Dr. Shawn Davidson, president of the Saskatchewan School Boards Association (SSBA). “We could affect outcomes in these areas if we had increased investment. At the same time, these are areas in which we won’t be able to provide additional supports if funding for education remains at status-quo levels.”
In the SSBA’s recent survey, early years supports was mentioned most often, with boards referring to increasing investment to support learning at Pre-Kindergarten to Grade 3 levels. Expanding mental health and wellness supports was another area mentioned by most respondents. Improving support for diverse classrooms and intensive needs were also common themes identified by boards, along with increasing staffing levels and development.
Davidson explained that ‘status quo’ funding for boards in the 2019-20 provincial budget to be released next month would mean funding levels that reflect enrolment growth and inflation, while ‘beyond the status quo’ would mean additional funding to enable improved investment.
“We want to communicate what improved investment in education means to school boards in Saskatchewan,” Davidson said. “Boards have worked hard to limit the impacts of funding cuts made two years ago, while continuing to face growth and inflation pressures. But we also have identified priorities for the future, where new investment would benefit outcomes for our province’s students.”
Survey respondents also emphasized the need for stability and predictability in education funding, a continued focus on student achievement through reconciliation and the importance of partnerships on shared priority areas.